The Points of Light Civic Accelerator announced today that it will invest $50,000 each in SpringFour (Chicago) and The Virtual Scholarship Center(Atlanta) – one for-profit and one nonprofit startup. Both ventures are focused on financial well-being and economic mobility to help more individuals and families succeed.
The Civic Accelerator is the first accelerator and investment fund in the country focused on “civic ventures” – for-profit and nonprofit startups that solve social problems by tapping into human capital as part of the solution. The goal of the accelerator is to equip each startup to seek investments and scale their social innovations.
The investment came at the end of The Civic Accelerator’s ninth Bootcamp-style startup program and investment fund. The Spring 2017 program convened 12 startups over 10 weeks for three in-person, weeklong sessions in Atlanta, New York, and Seattle, in addition to an in-depth virtual curriculum. The participants peer-selected the two ventures that received $50,000 investments.
All 12 ventures are working toward the shared outcomes of accelerating financial well-being and economic mobility for underserved populations. They represent various sectors, approaches and solutions, including inclusive financial education and health, economic resilience, and innovations around work-ready skills, employment, employer products and succeeding in the gig economy.
“It’s so inspiring to work with our corporate partners, faculty, and mentors, to help accelerate these 12 teams of entrepreneurs who are building and scaling solutions from direct to consumer tech products, to platforms that enable education, workforce solutions and students and families to access financial resources. Some ventures are also disrupting systemic cycles, like low-wage jobs in communities, and working with populations that are often overlooked,” said Ayesha Khanna, founder of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator. “Our teams represent the diversity of this country – 50 percent led or co-led by women, over 50 percent by racial/ethnic minorities – with domain expertise and proximity to these issues so they can best solve them.
SpringFour, a Chicago-based for-profit, improves loan performance for financial institutions by equipping call centers and consumer-facing applications with the most up-to-date and comprehensive financial health resources.
“SpringFour is excited and honored to have been selected by our peers. It provides strong validation of our mission and solution to connect consumers to resources that increase opportunities for financial health,” said Rochelle Gorey, co-founder and CEO of SpringFour. “With this investment, we plan to continue to provide people with the resources they need to reduce their household expenses so that they can begin to pay back past-due bills and save again.”
The Virtual Scholarship Center, an Atlanta nonprofit, is a scholarship preparatory platform that empowers students, counselors, and parents to create 4-year college funding strategies.
“The investment gives us an opportunity to truly re-envision what college access looks like in underserved communities,” shared Jessica Johnson, founder and executive director of The Scholarship Academy. “It will allow us to use the Center as a training tool for college counselors and connect local scholarship providers to low-income students via a mobile app. We don’t take it lightly that a group of the nation’s most innovative entrepreneurs found validity in our work and invested in our scaling potential.”
In its fifth year, the Civic Accelerator has invested $850,000 in U.S.-based social entrepreneurs and has paired 113 teams with more than 150 mentors, partners, and strategic advisors. The graduated teams have generated over $54 million dollars in revenue to-date and reached over 5 million individuals to solve the most critical social problems facing communities across the country.
The graduated ventures in the Spring 2017 Class are:
CommunityShare (Tucson, Arizona, Nonprofit), puts the public back into public education by connecting local community partners with the needs and goals of educators and their students.
Edquity (New York, For-profit) offers the first-of-its-kind college financial planning app, supporting students through every financial decision on their road to graduation.
Hip Pocket (Lincoln, Nebraska, For-profit) is a FinTech software company that creates apps to help people make better financial decisions from their phone in just minutes.
Mission Bit (San Francisco, Nonprofit) interrupts generational poverty by expanding coding education to high school students and offering affordable coding courses for low-income adults.
Mytual (Detroit, For-profit) helps owner-only businesses and freelancers maximize their retirement savings by streamlining access to individual 401(k) plans.
NaTakallam (New York, For-profit) provides an income to refugees by leveraging their native language skills and connecting them to users worldwide for online language practice and learning.
Project Basta (New York, Nonprofit) bridges the gap between employers and first-generation college graduates through an intensive professional placement and career mentoring program.
Sou Sou (Washington, D.C., For-profit) is a mobile-first investment platform that allows women investors to invest in women-led startups and build wealth together across the globe.
SpringFour (Chicago, For-profit) improves loan performance for financial institutions by equipping call centers and consumer-facing applications with the most relevant, up-to-date and comprehensive financial health resources.
The Prison Scholar Fund (Seattle, Nonprofit) opens access to postsecondary education and employment opportunities for incarcerated students with financing and mentoring.
The Virtual Scholarship Center (Atlanta, Nonprofit) is a scholarship preparatory platform that empowers students, counselors, and parents to create 4-year college funding strategies.
YourCasa (Atlanta, For-profit) increases Hispanic homeownership nationally by educating, preparing and connecting homebuyers with bilingual professionals that can help them achieve their American dream.
Ayesha Khanna is the president of the Points of Light Civic Incubator, which puts people at the center of change by supporting social entrepreneurs and early stage civic ventures around the world. As part of this role, she founded the Civic Accelerator and oversees the organization’s global efforts.